Hot chile nuts — crunchy, sweet and fiery

Forget those airplane nuts and try these, booming with a homemade chile powder and smoothed over with honey

Topics: Civil rights movement, Kitchen Challenge, Food,

Hot chile nuts -- crunchy, sweet and fiery

To read Paul’s story on his inspiration for these nuts, a chance meeting with Rebecca Clark, civil rights hero and mother to a bawdy soul singer, click here.

Chile Powder

Makes about ½ cup

We’ll get started by making some chile powder. It’s not really necessary, but the powder you make will be better than the stuff you buy. These dried ancho, arbol and pequin peppers are easy to find in the Hispanic aisle of your local Piggly Wiggly. You might have to order the cascabels and chipotles. Or substitute other peppers. You can make your powder as spicy or mild as you like, or alternatively, you can just jazz up the powder you buy with some additional peppers.


  • 1-2 ancho chiles
  • 1-2 cascabel chiles
  • 1-2 chipotle chiles
  • 2 arbol chiles
  • 1 teaspoon pequin chile
  • 1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano


  1. Cut peppers open with scissors, remove the seeds, then cut up into small strips.
  2. Roast the chiles in a cast iron pan over medium high heat. I suggest using ventilation when you do this. Roasting accomplishes two things: It releases the aromatic oils from the cells and dries out the pepper so it will powder easily.
  3. Set the peppers aside to cool when they finish roasting — about 3-5 minutes or when you start coughing as you stir them. Next, roast the cumin and coriander until the cumin seeds start popping, about 30 seconds to 1 minute if you used the same pan.
  4. Let everything cool for about 15 minutes and pulse all the ingredients in a blender to get them down to size.
  5. Finally, use a spice grinder, working in batches, to completely pulverize. It’s a very good idea to let the dust settle after each round of processing so you don’t breathe any in. That really smarts. It will keep at least six months in a lidded jar.

Hot Nuts


  • 1 16-ounce jar of dry-roasted peanuts
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons chile powder
  • salt, to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 250°F
  2. Mix all ingredients in a bowl and transfer to a parchment-lined sheet pan. Bake, taking them out to mix ‘em up a bit every 10 minutes, for a total of 40 minutes, or until the nuts are dry, reasonably separate, crisp and fragrant.
  3. Let cool. After they cool, they’ll be sweet with a hint of lime and subtle heat. Most important, they’ll be crunchy — much better than the hot nuts you get from the peanut man or flight attendant, a finger food that won’t muck up either your fingers or your boarding pass.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>